Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blasted the actions of the country's attorney general as a "coup attempt", following the latter's decision to indict the head of the government on charges of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud – matters that have long haunted Netanyahu.
Does this sound familiar? Many US and Israeli politicians, as well as commentators, have indeed drawn parallels between the process in Israel and the impeachment probe against US President Donald Trump in the US. The POTUS is accused by his political opponents of abusing his power, with Trump himself describing their efforts as "presidential harassment" and a "witch hunt" preventing him from carrying out his duties.
'Bad Week' for Trump and Netanyahu
US Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has claimed that Netanyahu and Trump will "stop at nothing" to stay in power in order to line their pockets, slamming their governance as "blatant corruption".
Netanyahu is accused of accepting bribes, trading government favors, and manipulating a free press. Like his pal Donald Trump, he'll stop at nothing to enrich himself and stay in power. This blatant corruption has no place in any democracy—I'll fight it at home and abroad. https://t.co/1jSCpoUQ3S— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 21, 2019
Matt Duss, an aide to Bernie Sanders – one of Warren's competitors in the upcoming Democratic primaries, also drew parallels between the corruption charges against the Israeli prime minister and the impeachment probe against the US president. He, however, noted that Israel has an advantage over the US in the form of an attorney general who has stood up against the political leader.
Jealous of my Israeli colleagues for having an attorney general who isn't a totally corrupt political hack.— Matt Duss (@mattduss) November 21, 2019
The chair of the US House Budget Committee, Democrat John Yarmuth, also praised the charges against Netanyahu and described the whole week as "bad for criminal heads of state", apparently referring to the impeachment hearings, deemed by some as damaging to President Trump.
Netanyahu indicted in the middle of President Trump’s Impeachment inquiry. Bad week for criminal heads of state.— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) November 21, 2019
'Weaponisation of Criminal Justice'
However, not all comparisons were critical of the two heads of state. Some commentators made negative remarks about the ongoing political trends in two countries, as well of the media's coverage of them.
US conservative radio host Mark Levin labelled the criminal charges pressed against Netanyahu "corrupt" and called on him to stand his ground as he faces them. He also condemned the Israeli press coverage of this latest development in the Jewish state’s politics, saying that the country's media are even "worse" than their American colleagues.
No, do NOT step down, Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’ve carefully reviewed these charges and they’re outrageous. This is an assault on freedom of the press and the investigation was corrupt. And your media is ever worse than ours. https://t.co/xxjlKsDhjB— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) November 21, 2019
US lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz opined in an interview with The Times of Israel newspaper that the actions of the Israeli prosecutors pose a "dangerous threat", stressing that there is a dangerous trend in both the US and Israel that is marked by the "weaponisation of criminal justice for political purposes".
Trump and Netanyahu's Legal Woes
US President Donald Trump is facing scrutiny by Congress over his alleged attempt to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky into meddling in the 2020 presidential election. The Democrats, who are leading the impeachment probe, believe that Trump withheld US military aid to the East European country to push it into launching a criminal probe into alleged misconduct by Trump's potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, during his tenure as US vice president. POTUS himself has denied any wrongdoing.
The Israeli prime minister, in turn, has long faced accusations of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust over receiving valuable gifts and allegedly trying to buy favourable coverage in the Israeli media. The charges long remained in limbo, but were finally given a green light by the attorney general on 21 November. The prime minister admits having received gifts and negotiating with media outlets, but denies committing any of the crimes ascribed to him by the prosecutors, calling the indictment a "coup attempt".